In my last post, I talked about the Mega Multi 100, the multi-vitamin that we carry at Santa Rosa Strength, and I received many responses. In this post, I hope to encourage all of you to begin to explore the possibility of taking a multivitamin, as part of your overall commitment to excellent health. So lets start with why we feel that everyone should take a multivitamin.
Consider the following questions:
- Do you have all of the energy you need to enjoy life to the fullest?
- Do you want to protect yourself from the environmental pollution that surrounds us?
- Are you under stress from today’s fast paced environment?
- Are you concerned about protecting your future health and well being?
- Are you experiencing ill health from diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or sarcopenia (muscle loss)?
If your answer is yes to any of the following questions, then you could benefit from taking a whole food multi-vitamin supplement. If you pay attention to the news, or listen to your peers discuss health challenges, it is more apparent than ever that we are not getting the proper nutrition in order to protect us from disease, and the evidence is in the dramatic rise in diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Since disease prevention is directly linked to nutrition, it is more important than ever to begin adopting the healthy lifestyle practices that will enable us to live longer, healthier lives. Processed foods laden with fats, sugars, salts, and devoid of other essential nutrients, along with foods tainted with pesticides, fungicides, sulfites, and preservatives, have put us all at risk of acquiring these deadly diseases. While many environmental influences are beyond our control, nature has provided us with the most powerful protection from disease ever discovered; antioxidants! These potent vitamin and minerals actually attack illness at the cellular level. The function of antioxidants is quite complex, but we will delve into this subject a little bit, for the purposes of our own understanding.
A Paradox In Metabolism
Much of complex life on Earth requires oxygen for it’s existence, yet the consumption of oxygen for these processes produces reactive oxygen species (ROS). We have heard of these most commonly referred to as free radicals, which is one type of (ROS). Included are oxygen ions and peroxides, both organic and inorganic. ROS form during normal metabolic processes and play an important role in cell signaling, but during times of environmental stress (UV or heat exposure, environmental toxins, physical activity, chemical ingestion) ROS levels rise dramatically, and can cause significant damage to cellular structures. This occurrence, known as oxidative stress, is involved in many diseases such as sarcopenia, atherosclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Type II Diabetes, Heart Failure, Myocardial Infarction, and chronic fatigue. Thanks to the perfection of nature, antioxidants protect us from oxidative stress by regulating and removing ROS’s from the body.
Not Why, But How?
By now I hope you are asking yourself what the best way to get antioxidants into the body is, and are forming a plan to accomplish this. If you are still unconvinced, please refer to the original questions and consider that it is a known fact that we all will test positive for BPA exposure, a toxic chemical, in amounts that have been shown to have adverse effects in many studies performed around the world.
How to get antioxidants into the body is relatively simple, yet is a subject that causes much debate. The number one way to get antioxidants into the body is (drum roll please)….
Food – Yes my friends, the best way to get antioxidants is from the place where they were discovered in the first place. But, and this is a big one, what kind of food? A recent trip to the Natural Foods Expo in Anaheim, CA revealed thousands of processed foods all claiming to have some type of healthy ingredient added to it. Lets look at the VitaMuffin brand BlueBran Vita Top product as an example. They were handing out samples of the Vita Top product, so we decided to check it out. The company tag line is what first caught my attention: VitaMuffin… better than an apple. A cursory check of the ingredients list brings out some glaring things that lead me to believe that this is NOT better than an apple. The first is natural flavor.
According to the US Code of Federal Regulations, a natural flavor or flavoring is:
…the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.
Secondly, and more to the point are the vitamins and minerals that are listed, touted as “better than an apple”. In a side to side comparison of these, the muffin has more of the amount of vitamins that are added to the muffin, but fewer vitamins and minerals that are actually in an apple, and the company fails to mention this. Plus, the vitamins added are likely all synthetic or isolated.
Synthetic vitamins do not perform the same functions in your body as vitamins found naturally in whole food
Anyone who studies biochemistry learns that vitamins do not exist as single components that act on their own. Vitamins are made up of several different components – enzymes, co-enzymes, and co-factors– that must work together to produce their intended biologic effects.
This is called synergy, and is important concept when discussing antioxidants. We will learn more about this later, but it suffices to say that the ingredients outside of the apple have lost their synergy. So, is it better to eat the apple or the product marketed as “better than an apple”? Eat the apple…
Also eat beans and legumes, dark leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. If you can afford to eat organic, do so, for then you will also avoid all the pesticides and fungicides found in raw foods.
Eat as many raw and cooked vegetables as you can, but stop eating processed foods.
Whats the second most effective way to get antioxidants into your body?
Whole Food Multi-vitamin - Since synthetic and isolated vitamins have no synergy, your body will not benefit from taking them. Synthetic and isolated vitamins and minerals act like a drug in the body, and no one has ever studied these type of drug interactions, so there is no evidence that suggests anyone should ever take a synthetic or isolated vitamin or mineral. Now I know this is contrary to what the massive marketing campaign waged on the American public would have you believe, but it is true. Taking these chemicals might actually be causing disease, but it is most certainly not helping your body heal. But what about a whole food? We do know that proper nutrition protects the body against disease, for it is the reason nature has provided it for us. If you wish to protect yourself from chemical interaction, you must avoid chemicals. The only way to do this, and get an extra layer of protection from taking a multi-vitamin, is to take a multi-vitamin that has absolutely no chemicals in it; a whole food, organic multi-vitamin.
Lastly, and the least effective way to get antioxidants into the body?
Drinks - There are some antioxidants found in coffee, black and green teas, and red wine. Much press has been given, recently, to the health benefits that may be experienced by drinking things such as these. Although it is true that antioxidants can be found in these, the levels of antioxidants are insignificant. Take red wine for example. In red wine there is something called resveratrol. A google search turns up all kinds of press and products concerning this antioxidant, yet there never has been a study that has determined it’s true effectiveness in life extension. It’s all marketing hype! Also, the levels of resveratrol found in red wine varies greatly, depending on grape variety, it’s geographic region, exposure to fungal infection, and fermentation time. Resveratrol can be found in the skins and seeds of many berries as well, such as blueberries and cranberries. Red wine is good, but if you want to experience the benefits of resveratrol, it’s better to eat the grape!
The path towards nutritional excellence and good health is fraught with many pitfalls. The world we live in is very complicated and we have so many things to consider when it comes to our health. But if you want to experience the amazing health benefits of antioxidants, the choice is pretty clear. Eat as many organic vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, as reasonably possible. Also, take a whole food, certified organic multivitamin as a supplement to the nutrients that you might be missing. And skip the Vitamuffin.